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Have you ever heard of clicker shrimp ( Alpheidae ) that have the skills usually associated with comic book superheroes? Scientific articles say that when they close their huge claws, these creatures release a jet of water at speeds up to 100 kilometers per hour and generate temperatures up to 4,427 degrees Celsius – four times hotter than volcanic lava. There are more than a thousand species of click crabs in the world and they are found everywhere – they can be found in fresh waters, coral reefs and other parts of the planet. Reading about the amazing abilities of these crustaceans, one involuntarily wonders: if they have such destructive power and are so widespread, how did they still not destroy humanity? There is an explanation for this.
The Nutcracker is the loudest animal in the world
Until the 21st century, no one spoke much about click beetles – they have been known to science for a long time, but they were not particularly interested in anyone. Everything changed in 2020, after the release of the action movie The Power Project, where the character of actor Jamie Foxx cracks down on enemies with the help of shock waves from bursting bubbles. Thousands of viewers were surprised by the mentioned abilities of click shrimp and began to massively google “pistol shrimp”.
Crustacean creatures that defend themselves against predators and stun their prey with harsh sound waves do exist. The size of the click crabs is approximately 6 centimeters. These creatures have two claws, and one is much larger than the other – sometimes it is larger than the whole body. While the claws of other crustaceans have a tweezer-shaped end, click shrimp have a two-piece gun-shaped end. When compressed, these parts emit a powerful wave of bubbles that can stun nearby fish and even shatter a small can.
The impact force of the nut crab
The energy that is released with each click of the claws is both delight and horror. Firstly, when the huge claw is compressed, a jet of water is released at a speed of up to 100 kilometers per hour. Secondly, at a distance of 4 centimeters from the claw, an acoustic pressure of 80 kilopascals is created. Thirdly, when the claw is compressed, it is accompanied by the appearance of a bubble, inside which a temperature of about 4,427 degrees Celsius is formed. Fourth, the bubble pops at 200 decibels—enough to permanently stun a person.
Based on all this, it turns out that click crabs are the same loud inhabitants of the seas and oceans as huge sperm whales and beluga whales. During World War II, American sailors learned to distinguish the pop of a click shrimp from the noise of enemy submarines – the tiny creatures made people tense up.
What explains the strength of the click-crab
Until 2000, scientists were sure that a loud bang occurs at the moment of closing the claws. But then the researchers decided to film this action with a high-speed camera at 40,000 frames per second and record the sound with an underwater microphone. The video showed that at the moment the claw was closed, there was no loud sound – maybe there was a click, but the volume level turned out to be minimal.
However, the claw closes so quickly that the water between its two halves is squeezed out at speeds up to 100 kilometers per hour. At this water speed, Bernoulli’s law is triggered, at which the pressure drops below the pressure of water vapor and the water begins to boil at ambient temperature. Under conditions of extremely low pressure, a hot vapor bubble about 1 centimeter in diameter forms and explodes, releasing energy. In physics, this phenomenon is called cavitation.
How the click shrimp kills animals
Basically, a powerful sound wave is used by click shrimp to stun small fish. From powerful cotton, they lose the ability to swim or die altogether, after which the crustaceans can only drag the poor fellows into the hole and eat them. In case of danger, of course, a powerful claw is used to scare away larger predators. There is also evidence that with the help of a huge claw, males attract individuals of the opposite sex – just by sight, not by sounds.
Clicker crab is dangerous to humans
If you try to find news that a click shrimp hit a man , you are unlikely to find anything. Theoretically, the impact of a crustacean creature can really kill a person, but certain conditions are needed for this. First, everything must take place in water, because a liquid is needed to form a bubble. Secondly, at the time of the release of energy, a person should be next to the click crab. In such conditions, you can really be exposed to temperatures of more than 4000 degrees and feel the horrors of bursting membranes. But in reality, people have not yet found themselves in such conditions and there have not yet been deaths from click crabs , and this is just wonderful.
At least, it was not possible to find evidence of the real danger of click crab for people. At most, there are reports that someone bled from a finger after being hit, but these are just references – there is no official data. So you should not be afraid that you will be “shooted” by the clicker crab. But who you need to stay away from is huge lizards.